Let’s talk about something that doesn’t seem to get much play: anxiety, OCD, panic disorder and medication interactions. I have been MIA for a bit and this post relates to that entirely. On August 20th I was diagnosed with acute bronchitis. No big deal, just a little chest cold. However, my spouse is immunocompromised so my little cold could be big, so what did I do? Went to the doctor first thing that morning, got a steroid shot and antibiotic, and went on my merry way. Over the next three days I progressively felt more and more fatigued and sluggish. Day three I went back to the doctor and told him my symptoms. Solution? “You’re healthy, I don’t see why we can’t give you another steroid shot.” That, my friends, is when the trouble started.
For three weeks, I felt terribly anxious. The first week I cried every single day. I felt something was terribly wrong with me, I was filled with panic and dread. Every time I slept, I woke up in a panic. It did not matter if I was sleeping at night or trying to take a nap from the exhaustion from being so wound up. After a week, I went back to the doctor and had a full blood panel done. Nothing. My blood work was perfect other than a slight vitamin D deficiency.
The steroid shots were exacerbating my mental illness. The doctor told me this was normal for some people and that it would stop within 8-10 days when the steroid worked its way out of my system. I was no longer physically ill but the war raging within my own mind was as strong as it was the first time I set foot in my therapist’s office. I had my tools though. I had my mindfulness techniques, yoga, meditation, medication for the thoughts. Every tool in my toolbox I used and still my mind raged against me.
Then, I did a little research and found that many people had the same reaction I was having. Many people said their doctor was resistant to admit the steroids were capable of doing this to them. I was lucky, my doctor was honest with me about what was happening and apologetic that it was happening. It wasn’t his fault. He couldn’t have known. It is my body and even I didn’t know. Still, I was amazed at how many people looked up the same thing I did about being anxious following a steroid shot. Men and women, both were present on forum after forum. Out of work due to their symptoms, unable to function normally in the world their mind had abandoned in favor of one filled with paranoia and dread.
Some of these people had been going through this for over a month. Their desperation evident in the words they typed. I count myself lucky that by the end of the third week, I have started feeling normal again. Able to function normally at work and sleep at night. I do not feel that dread in the pit of my stomach. Still, I feel like people should know this is a possibility.
I am not saying to avoid going to the doctor or receiving treatment. What I am saying is to talk with your doctor about your anxiety disorders. Don’t be ashamed. Tell them what your concerns are about undertaking certain treatments if you have had a reaction in the past. And most of all, do not feel alone because you are not.